I took a spectacular Fall hike up the Luskville Falls yesterday and I thought I’d use the opportunity to give a little photo tour and to create the Luskville Falls Trail group, where OutdoorOttawa members can upload their own pictures or videos and post their own thoughts on this popular Gatineau Park hiking trail.
The abundance of both rain and sunshine in Ottawa over the summer has turned the fall foliage into an explosion of colours, and the near-record rain in September has transformed the normally sedate Luskville Falls into a rushing torrent with Spring-like vigour. As my friend and I started out from the P19 at the base of the Eardley Escarpment, looking up at the rocky toes of the Canadian Shield poking through the trees, we were already stunned by the vibrant Fall colours… and the overflowing parking lot!
The Luskville Falls Trail starts off nice and slow along a well-maintained pathway, covered with orange leaves at this time of year. After just 200 metres of “hiking”, you’re at the base of the Luskville Falls, which are gushing water down a clean, flat rockface when the water’s high.
It follows to reason that a hike up along some waterfalls is going to involve a lot of ‘up’, and the Luskville Falls Trail delivers. From the moment you pass the base of the Falls the trail climbs criss-crossed up the mountainside along the waterfalls, which at times becomes more of a stream. Don’t fear, though, as there are more great spots to take a break than you’ll need: quiet resting areas along the waterfall, huge boulders perched on the slope with views of the valley below… you won’t be disappointed.
The Luskville Falls trail takes a drop of stamina as it weaves its way through sheer cliffs and giant, broken boulders, and several different mini ecozones, each with different trees and colours. Making it easy to keep going for me were the Fall reds, which blended in with the orange and yellow from the base of the hill, but once we were in the thick of it the vibrancy was crazy!
As you climb and climb, the Luskville Falls Trail rewards with two beautiful lookouts: the Lusk Lookout, about halfway up, and the Pontiac lookout, once you reach the top of the trail (though not the end).
Of course, the featured attraction of the Luskville Falls Trail are the Luskville Falls themselves – a long, meandering stream that drops 300 metres from the top of the escarpment, pooling here and there along its way before plunging over the next ledge. Its no wonder photography buffs are considered an indigenous species along this trail!
After about 1.5 kilometres you’ll reach the top of the escarpment, where the Luskville Falls Trail hangs a hard left and heads through a rock-floored forest towards the final destination: the Lusk Fire Tower, built in the 40’s to keep an eye out for forest fires in Gatineau Park.
It’s about 1k from the fork in the path which, on our route, consisted of some birch trees laid across the stream and a blue hiking marker on the other side. The view from the Fire Tower base is a little obstructed by the trees (and dozens of hikers yesterday), but I bet the view from the tower lookout is absolutely spectacular!
We decided to take a real break at the Pontiac lookout; there’s a wide expanse of shrubs and boulders dribbled amidst some Jack Pines and White Pines here, with lots of quiet corners that go unnoticed by most hikers.
After basking in the warm Fall sun and a quick snack, thoughts turned to the night’s Thanksgiving dinner, so we gathered our things and double-timed it down the rest of the mountain. Passing crowds of hikers at every flat spot and dodging lines of pussyfooters along the steeps, we made it to the bottom with heats pounding and in record time, fully satisfied that we’d just conquered one of Gatineau Park’s most challenging hikes!
Now to find a way out of the parking lot…
As a nice touch, I also used EveryTrail to record the Luskville Falls Trail with GPS. Here’s a little tour of the trail with pictures attached:
EveryTrail – Find the best